PETALING JAYA: After a roaring start to the year, all have suddenly turned quiet for the national bowling team. They are in the dark over their next international assignment.
With all their coming tournaments scheduled in the Asian region, there is a possibility that they will have to skip all of them because of the threat of the deadly illness, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The next four tournaments are two legs of the Asian Tour, which run back-to-back with the Thai Open (May) and the Philippines Open (June).
Coach Holloway Cheah said that the team may end up with no “warm-up” tournaments ahead of the World Championships, which Malaysia will host from Sept 9-20.
“At the moment, the organisers have not informed us on whether their tournaments will go on as scheduled or not. We have also not made decisions to skip the tournaments. The bowlers are going through their normal two-hour training sessions daily,” said Holloway.
Holloway is taking charge of the team in the absence of chief coach Mats Karlsson.
The Swede has not returned to Malaysia since he led the men's and women's teams to victory in the World Tenpin Team Cup in Odense, Denmark, in February. He is sorting out some personal problems back at home.
Holloway is also looking forward to see a development over the next few weeks. He hopes that the National Sports Council (NSC) will grant approval for a second national team.
“The MTBC (Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress) will be meeting them and hopefully, they will give us the nod to have a second team, comprising mostly young bowlers,” he said.
“Currently, we only have the World Championships-bound bowlers and Mohd Nadri Mohd Noor under the national training programme. All the other juniors have been sent back to their respective states.”
Besides Nadri, the men bowlers in training are Azidi Ameran, Daniel Lim, Jonathan Lim, Zulmazran Zulkilfi, Alex Liew and Ben Heng. The women are Sarah Yap, Lai Kin Ngoh, Shalin Zulkilfi, Choy Poh Lai, Wendy Chai and Sharon Chai.
The 17-year-old Nadri confirmed a place in the national team by virtue of finishing third after 32 games in a two-day national selection roll-off at the Ampang Superbowl at the Summit in USJ here last month.
For the record, besides the World Tenpin Team Cup double victory, Wendy got Malaysia off to a great start to the year by winning the Singapore Open Masters in January.
Then Shalin and Kin Ngoh made it a 1-2 finish in the 2002 Asian Tour Grand Slam Finals.
In the Malaysian Open in March, Azidi won the men's Masters crown. Shalin went on to win the opening leg of the Tour and a week later, reached the quarter-finals of the World Invitational Tenpin tournament in London.